For beginning hikers, it can be difficult knowing how to prepare for your first hike. Unlike advanced hikers, you may not be sure what items need to be packed, what research needs to be done in advance, or how to plan for unforeseen circumstances such as inclement weather. From packing extra water and nutritional snacks to familiarizing the area you will be hiking, there are several essential steps to follow when readying yourself to embark on your first hike.
1. Choose the trail you intend to hike. Research trails in your area that are targeted towards beginning level hikers and that are fairly low in elevation and reasonably easy in terrain. Consider your fitness level in comparison to the difficulty of the terrain, as you may get discouraged if you try to choose a hike that is physically too difficult for you. Other elements to consider when choosing a hike are the scenery and wildlife, as these can make a hike more enjoyable.
2. Research the trail you intend to hike to familiarize yourself with the terrain as much as possible. Know if the trail is an in and out trail or a looped trail, and find out how many miles in length the trail is and how high in elevation you will be hiking. Other important elements of the trail you should research are the terrain type, such as forest, dessert or prairie and how shaded the trail will be.
3. Look at the weather forecast for the day of your hike. If the weather is forecasted to be sunny and bright, you will know to bring sunscreen and a hat. If there is a chance of rain forecasted, you will need to bring a poncho. If the weather is forecasted to be cold, you will need to bring a jacket.
4. Pack all of your equipment into a lightweight backpack. Quality hiking boots, a water bottle, a small first aid kit, sunglasses, sunscreen and a snack, such as a protein bar are all items you should pack for a beginning level, day time hike.
5. Calculate how much water you will need for your hike by estimating the time your hike will take. Factor in 20 to 30 minutes for each mile of hiking, and pack a minimum of eight to ten fluid ounces of water for each hour of hiking.